MPs in ambitious push to increase number of counties to 58

National Assembly during a previous Special Sitting. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The push for additional counties has gained momentum, with 26 Members of Parliament calling for the division of some of the 47 counties provided under the current constitution to create 11 more counties.

The legislators, led by the Additional Counties Caucus chairman Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama, are seeking to establish Kuria, Teso, Mount Elgon, East Pokot, Mwingi, Gucha, Suba, Ijara, Nakuru West, Wajir South, and Nyambene as additional counties.

During a press conference at Parliament buildings yesterday, the 26 legislators said they have submitted a memorandum to the National Dialogue Committee, saying the Committee of Experts had provisionally adopted the former districts as a basis for creating the 47 counties, which should now be reconsidered.

"We believe the provision for the creation of the 47 counties did not preclude the possibility of establishing additional counties. More consultation is required to ensure that areas that were initially left out are now included, thereby enhancing representation," Kitayama said.

The Kuria East MP said the adoption of former districts as counties had led to economic, social, and political marginalisation in the areas that were excluded.

We'd be better off with less, not more, counties

The push for the creation of 11 new counties comes at a time when Members of Parliament have approved a report from the Budget and Appropriation Committee, which proposes a Sh7.9 billion allocation to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. If this proposal is adopted, it will increase the number of counties in Kenya to 58.

The caucus argued that the constitution does not expressly state that ethnicity should be a factor in determining county boundaries.

"Our request is that the National Dialogue Committee prioritises the creation of the 11 new counties," they said.

The MPs further argued that the constitution outlines the recognition of diversity, the right of communities to manage their own affairs, development, promotion of the interests, and rights of minorities as foundational objectives of devolution.

The legislators contended that grouping individuals from different communities together has resulted in larger groups that share a common language or social identity dominating others, thus benefiting more from allocated resources.

Kitayama, who is serving a second term in parliament, tabled a bill in the National Assembly last year to have the number of counties increased from 47 to 52, with the creation of Kuria, Teso, Mount Elgon and East Pokot.

Constitutional expert Bobby Mkangi said the proposal must get the support of the National Assembly.